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by Eben Brown, EABCO.com, (E. Arthur Brown Co. Inc.)
The current popularity of 6.5mm cartridges in the USA has been a long time in coming. I won’t go into my opinions on why it took so long to catch on. The important thing is that it finally HAS caught on and we’re now so fortunate to have a wide selection of 6.5mm cartridges to choose from!
6.5mm Grendel – Developed by Alexander Arms for the AR15 and military M4 family of rifles. The Grendel fits the dimensional and functional requirements of these rifles while delivering better lethality and downrange performance. There are now similar cartridges from other rifle companies. We chamber for the Les Baer “264 LBC-AR”. Designed for velocities of 2400-2500 fps with 123gr bullets, it shoots the 140-grainers at about 2000 fps (for comparison purposes).
6.5mm BRM – Developed by E. Arthur Brown Company to give “Big Game Performance to Small Framed Rifles” — namely our Model 97D Rifle, TC Contender, and TC Encore. Velocities of 2400-2500 fps with 140gr bullets puts it just under the original 6.5×55 Swede performance.
6.5mm x 47 Lapua – Developed by Lapua specifically for international 300m shooting competitions (with some interest in long-range benchrest as well). Case capacity, body taper, shoulder angle, and small rifle primer are all features requested by top international shooters. You can expect velocities of 2500-2600+ with 140 gr bullets.
6.5mm Creedmoor – Developed by Hornady and Creedmoor Sports, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is designed for efficiency and function. Its shape reaches high velocities while maintaining standard .308 Winchester pressures and its overall length fits well with .308 Win length magazines. You can expect velocities of 2600-2700+ fps with 140gr bullets.
.260 Remington – Developed by Remington to compete with the 6.5mmx55 Swedish Mauser that was (finally) gaining popularity in 1996. By necking down the 7mm-08 Remington to 6.5mm (.264 cal), the .260 Remington was created. It fit the same short-action [receivers] that fit .308 Win, .243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, etc. You can expect velocities of 2600-2700 fps with 140gr bullets in the 260 .Remington.
[Editor's Note: In the .260 Rem, try the Lapua 120gr Scenar-Ls and/or Berger 130gr VLDs for great accuracy and impressive speeds well over 2900 fps.]
6.5mm x 55 Swedish Mauser – This was the cartridge that started the 6.5mm craze in the USA. It is famous for having mild recoil, deadly lethality on even the biggest game animals, and superb accuracy potential. Original ballistics were in the 2500 fps range with 140gr bullets. Nowadays handloaders get 2600-2700+ fps.
[Editor's Note: Tor from Scandinavia offers this bit of 6.5x55mm history: "Contrary to common belief, the 6.5×55 was not developed by Mauser, but was constructed by a joint Norwegian and Swedish military commission in 1891 and introduced as the standard military cartridge in both countries in 1894. Sweden chose to use the cartridge in a Mauser-based rifle, while Norway used the cartridge in the Krag rifles. This led to two different cartridges the 6.5×55 Krag and 6.5×55 Mauser -- the only real difference being safe operating pressure."]
6.5-284 Norma — This comes from necking the .284 Winchester down to .264 caliber. Norma standardized it for commercial ammo sales. The 6.5mm-284 was very popular for F-Class competition and High Power at 1,000 yards. However, many F-Class competitors have switched to the straight .284 Win for improved barrel life. 6.5-284 velocities run 3000-3100+ fps with 140gr bullets.
.264 Winchester Magnum – Developed by Winchester back in 1959, the .264 Win Mag never really caught on and may have delayed the ultimate acceptance of 6.5mm cartridges by US shooters (in my opinion). It missed the whole point and original advantage of 6.5 mm cartridges.
The Original 6.5mm Advantage
The special needs of long-range competition have skewed things a little. However the original advantages of 6.5mm cartridges — how deadly the 6.5mms are on game animals, how little recoil they produce, and how easy they are to shoot well — still hold true today.
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What would it be like to have a tracer round fly right past your eyeball? You’d never want to experience that in real life. But here’s an amazing short video that lets you see a “target-eye’s view” (POV) of an incoming tracer round. If you look carefully, you can actually see the bullet spinning (throwing off radial sparks) before it strikes the target.
Watch Incoming .22 LR Tracer Round:
YouTube shootist “22 Plinkster” placed a miniature video camera behind bullet-proof glass then fired a .22 LR tracer round right at the camera. With slo-mo playback, you can see the tracer leave the rifle barrel and fly directly at the camera, showing bright red sparks all the way. In this video, 22 Plinkster shoots a .22 LR tracer round at a camera protected by a layer of bulletproof glass. After the impact, there is a dark black crater left in the glass (lower photo).
Freeze Frame 1: Tracer Round Comin’ at You…
Freeze Frame 2: Tracer Round Milli-Seconds from Impact
Freeze Frame 3: Impact Crater on Bulletproof Glass Shielding Camera.
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ELEY Limited, the English producer of high-quality rimfire ammunition, has been acquired by LDC in a £42 million deal. LDC is a well-established private equity firm specializing in management buy-outs, equity release (cash out), development (DevCap) and acquisition finance transactions.
Eley Will Expand Production and Launch a New Ammo Product
With the LDC take-over, Eley ammo production will increase, thanks to fresh capital expenditures by LDC. In exciting news for shooters, “a new round will be launched” according to Andrew Lane, Managing Director of Eley/LDC. This new ammo product is a big mystery. We can’t speculate whether this is a completely new rimfire cartridge, or simply another variant of .22 LR or other popular rimfire round. (Might Eley be producing 17 HMR in the future?) Along with the expanded production, Eley plans to open a new test facility for “the strategically important Scandinavian market-place.” We presume that will be located in Norway or Sweden, but no location has been revealed as yet.
Andrew Lane explained the benefits of the LDC deal: “While Eley’s growth has been strong over the past few years, IMI is now focused on specialist flow control activities. In LDC we have found an investor that has similarly ambitious targets and who fully buys into our business plan and development strategy.”
In the competitive arena, Eley has been extremely successful in recent years. Notably, all Gold medalists at the recent 2014 World Championships in Spain shot Eley ammo, and current Number 1-ranked shooters are using ELEY ammunition.
ELEY has grown in recent years and it now has 122 employees, mainly in operations, manufacturing and distribution. Eley was founded in 1826 by the Eley Brothers and moved to the Birmingham area after World War I. A division of Nobel Explosives, it eventually became a subsidiary of ICI in 1926. It later formed part of the IMI metals division that was separated from ICI in 1977. Following this deal with LDC, it is once again an independent company.
Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Sierra Bullets has just added extensive load data for the 300 AAC Blackout (300 BLK) cartridge. Developed for the AR15 platform, the 300 BLK offers AR shooters a large-caliber option in both subsonic and supersonic variants. The 300 BLK can be made from modified .223 Rem brass or necked-up .221 Fireball cases. We like to form our .300 BLK brass by necking-up the excellent Lapua .221 Fireball brass.
Sierra Has 5 Pages of Load Data for the 300 AAC Blackout. Here is one sample page:
Sierra Cartridge Comments: 300 AAC Blackout
The 300 AAC Blackout (300 BLK, or 7.62x35mm) was created by Advanced Armament Corp. and Remington in order to provide the military with a way to shoot .30 caliber bullets from the M4 platform with only a barrel change. It has since become popular for a wide range of uses including hunting and home defense.
The cartridge shares case-head dimensions and body taper with the .223 Remington. Not only does this allow for compatibility with existing magazines and bolts, but it allows reloaders to form 300 BLK brass from the vast supply of 5.56mm or .223 cases. However, since .223/5.56 cases need to be cut-down and reformed, it can be simpler to neck up .221 Fireball brass.
The 300 AAC Blackout is similar to previous wildcats, such as the .30-221 and .300 Fireball, as well as the proprietary 300 Whisper®. However the 300 BLK was the first SAAMI-approved (and standardized) cartridge of this type. Moreover, any company is free to make firearms or ammunition for the 300 BLK.
300 AAC Blackout is popular with hunters, who may not be allowed to legally hunt with .223 in their state, and who prefer .30-caliber bullets for medium-sized game. It provides similar effectiveness to the 7.62×39mm or the slightly more powerful 30-30 cartridges, while working in the more up-to-date AR15 platform. Effective range for hunting is about 100-150 yards.
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In the “good old days”, if you needed rimfire ammo for fun shooting, you could just head over to Walmart (or a local sporting goods store) and find a wide variety of offerings, including low-cost bulk packs from Federal, CCI, and Remington. These days, there are “slim pickings”, even at Wally World. You need to “cast a bigger net” to find rimfire ammo these days.
One of the most efficient ways to locate rimfire ammunition nationwide is to use Ammoseek.com, a specialized search engine. On its home page, Ammoseek has a handy 22LR PAGE link. With just one click you can search dozens of ammo vendors.
If you click the 22LR Page link, Ammoseek instantly calls up current ammo inventories located by Ammoseek’s automated search bots. Then Ammoseek plots ALL the available rimfire ammo, sorted from least expensive to most expensive. Here are search results from this morning, October 6, 2014. We found some CCI Blazer at $4.99 per 50-rd box (40gr LRN). That’s just want we needed for a plinking session at the range.
Click Image to see full-screen version.
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Have a good look at the photos below — this may be one of the most noteworthy target strings we’ve ever published. What you can see is the effect of barrel tuner position on point of impact (POI). You can clearly see that the tuner position alters the up/down POI location in a predictable fashion.
This remarkable 15-shot sequence was shot by French benchrester Pascal Fischbach using his 6 PPC fitted with a CG (Carlito Gonzales) action and a Bukys barrel tuner.
Pascal reports: “After [bullet] seating and load validation, I put the Bukys tuner on, screwing it out 10 turns. According to Carlito, the CG’s super stiff action-to-barrel fit gives a faster vibration modulus that is detrimental below 10 turns [position of the tuner].” Pascal’s procedure was to screw out the tuner 1/4 turn progressively from one shot to the next. He shot one bullet at each tuner position, with a total of 15 shots.
Left Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
Right Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
Pascal observed: “Note the point of impact displacement [from shot to shot] tracks clearly along a sinusoide (sine wave curve).” This is indeed notable and significant! This shows how the tuner’s ability to change barrel harmonics can alter the position of the muzzle as each bullet exits, resulting in a higher or lower POI. Pascal sent his results to Carlito Gonzales in Argentina for analysis.
Pascal poses this question to readers: “Guess which three positions Carlito recommends to try?”
Editor’s Note: While this target sequence clearly shows how tuner position can alter bullet point of impact, this, by itself, does not tell us which tuner position(s) are best for accuracy. That will require further multi-shot group testing, involving careful experimentation with tuner position (and powder charge weights). But for those folks who doubt that a tuner can make a difference on a short, fat barrel, just take another look at the photos. The up/down changes are undeniable, and noteworthy in the wave pattern they follow.
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These days, when gun owners get together, the hot topic is: “Where did all the rimfire ammo go?” For the past couple of years, .22 LR rimfire ammo has been very hard to find, and what you can purchase is priced much higher than before. Is there some conspiracy? Have ammo-makers cut back production? Mark Keefe, Editor of American Rifleman, recently addressed these questions, and the related issue of production capacity.
Keefe observes that, if “normal” demand for rimfire ammo has increased substantially (and permanently), we may not see a big improvement in the availability of rimfire ammo until such time as ammo-makers increase production capacity. But that would require the construction of very expensive new ammo manufacturing facilities. According to Keefe, that’s not likely to happen any time soon because manufacturers will not spend hundreds of millions chasing a short-term demand “bubble”. In Keefe’s view, until the panic buying subsides, and ammo-makers can reliably determine the true, “normal” long-term demand for rimfire ammo, it is unlikely that they will invest in new factories.
Click Graphic to Read Full Article:
Here are some highlights of the Keefe Article on Rimfire Ammunition:
U.S. Rimfire Ammo Factories Really Are Running at Full Capacity
Keefe: “I have been in two of the major rimfire plants in the United States since this ‘crisis’ hit. They are, indeed, running three shifts, full out. But there are not that many rimfire plants in the [USA].”
Increased Rimfire Gun Sales May Justify Increased Production Capacity
Keefe: “There are, literally, millions more .22 Long Rifle firearms owned and shot that have entered civilian hands in recent years…. Variables such as a substantial increase in the number of .22s sold and a change in the type of .22s being shot … may make a new rimfire plant worth it. Time will tell.”
Construction of New Factories is Very Expensive
Keefe: “Would it be worth it to go to the expense of, say, building a $250 million rimfire plant to make your company’s money back at a penny a round over the next 10 to 20 years? The answer, so far, has been a resounding ‘No’.”
Manufacturers Can’t Assess True Demand Levels Until the Panic Buying Ceases
Keefe: “At some point, ammunition demand will reach its real level[.] At that point, the major ammo makers will look and see if there is sufficient demand for [bringing] a new rimfire plant on-line.”
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Grafs.com is now featuring some hard-to-find products that are very popular with our Forum members. These are items that sell out quickly, or may be back-ordered for months. Grab ‘em while you can.
Berger 7mm 180gr Hybrids
Graf’s has the ultra-accurate, high-BC 7mm 180gr Berger Hybrid bullet. This 7mm Hybrid is probably the most popular projectile in use by top F-Class Open shooters. Yes, 7mm Hybrids are in stock now and ready to ship for $45.99 per 100.
Forster Co-Ax Reloading Press
Graf’s has the superb Forster Co-Ax Press in stock and ready to ship. This unique product is the “Cadillac of reloading presses”. Sizing and seating dies slide into universal jaws for quick die changes. The dies can also self-align in the press for reduced run-out on your loaded rounds. If you’ve been wanting a Co-Ax, grab one now as they can be hard to find between production runs.
Magnetospeed V3 Chronograph
Graf’s now sells the remarkable Third Generation Magnetospeed Chronograph. The original Magnetospeed was a “game-changer” in the shooting industry. This compact chrono attaches directly to your barrel so you don’t need to set up a tripod, and fiddle around aligning sky-screens or diffusers. You also don’t have to worry about putting a bullet hole (or two) in the middle of your chronograph. The latest “V3″ model Magnetospeed features an improved attachment system, an upgraded display/control module, plus software enhancements. And Magnetospeed now provides a rugged polymer case that holds the “bayonet” sensing unit, display module, and all other components. Price is $379.99
NOTE: All these prices include shipping with one $7.95 flat fee per order.
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Not an opera fan? Well you should be. Here’s an interesting bit of trivia. Did you know that one of the most famous German operas is all about competitive rifle shooting? Believe it or not, the popular von Weber opera Der Freischütz (“The Marksman”), features shooting matches and precision bullet-making.
The opera’s story should “strike a chord” with our readers. In order to win an important shooting match, the hero, Max, casts seven “Magic Bullets”. He is lured into this occult reloading practice by a fellow shooter with a hidden, not-so-nice agenda. (Sound familiar you guys?) But what our hero Max doesn’t realize is that the devil is at work, and if Max uses the magic bullets at the big match he will forfeit his soul and suffer eternal damnation. Lesson to our readers — don’t try to win matches with Magic Bullets. CLICK HERE for the full story…
The overture and the Jägerchor (“Hunters’ Chorus”) from Act 3 of Der Freischütz are often performed as concert pieces. Listen to a stirring performance of the Jägerchor in the video below. This features full orchestra, mass male choir, and the ‘Jagdhornverein Edelweiss’ horns. You’ll enjoy it…
Jägerchor (Hunters’ Chorus) from Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber
Andre Rieu with the ‘Jagdhornverein Edelweiss’ and the Männerchor ‘Maastrichter-Staar’.
Der Freischütz (usually translated as “The Marksman” or “The Freeshooter”) is an opera in three acts by Carl Maria von Weber, with libretto by Friedrich Kind. It premiered on 18 June 1821 at the Schauspielhaus, Berlin. It is considered the first important German Romantic opera. The plot is based on the German folk legend of the Freischütz and many of its tunes were inspired by German folk music. Despite its daring innovations, it quickly became an international success, with some 50 performances in the first 18 months after the premiere. Among the many artists influenced by Der Freischütz was a young Richard Wagner.
Jägerchor (Hunters’ Chorus) — full version with procession of ‘Jagdhornverein Edelweiss’ in Maastricht.
Top Der Freischutz illustration from a Gruselkabinette CD (Episode 15) sold byTitania Medien.
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Do you shoot a .308 Winchester (and who doesn’t)? Well here’s a great deal on Lapua .308 Win brass, the best you can buy. Ultra-consistent, Lapua brass stays strong for many reloading cycles, even with stout loads. Lapua is the choice of most F-TR competitors who shoot the .308 Win in competition.
The .308 Win Palma version brass (item BL11071) features small primer pockets. Some people believe the small primer pockets help the cases deliver a lower Extreme Spread (ES) and (maybe) withstand high pressures for more loading cycles. YMMV, but we do like the small-primer-pocket .308 Win Lapua brass and it’s our first choice for target applications.
Both types of Lapua .308 Winchester brass are now available at very attractive prices from Bullets.com: $61.95 for large primer pocket brass, $69.95 for small pocket brass. This cartridge brass is in stock today and ready to ship. CLICK HERE to order.
10/1/2014 Update: Sale Inventories of the Small Primer Pocket .308 Win Palma brass are sold out. You can still buy this brass, but the regular price is $79.95 per 100 cases.
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Looking for authentic U.S. Military Specification Standards (MIL-STD) for gun parts, safety products, or other hardware? Log on to EverySpec.com. This website provides FREE access to the complete archive of U.S. Government spec sheets and technical manuals. You can quickly access and download thousands of public domain U.S. Government documents. For example, we searched for “Picatinny” and came up with MIL-STD-1913 “Dimensioning of Accessory Mounting Rail for Small Arms Weapons”. With one click we downloaded the file as a PDF. Then a search for “M118″ yielded the engineering drawing for 7.62×51 M118 LR Match ammo. Pretty cool.
Ever wonder how shotshells are manufactured? Here’s a step-by-step trip through the shotshell production process, courtesy Federal Premium. Hulls are created from plastic pellets, of various colors, depending on shotshell type and gauge. Starting with pellets, here’s how shotshells are made:
Step 1: Plastic pellets are melted down into a plastic tube.
Step 2: In the extruding process the tube is heated, stretched, and cooled to form the hull. The machine that does this is called the “Riefenhauser” after the German engineer who built the first model.
Step 3: Hulls are cut to length as they come off the Riefenhauser. They then move along to the next stage in the process.
Step 4: The case head is stamped out of sheets of metal (brass or steel depending on shell type). A series of strikes of the stamp produces a fully-formed case head with flash-hole.
Step 5: The hulls move to the primer insert and heading machine to get primers and case heads.
Step 6: Still untouched by human hands, the shell moves on to the loader where it gets its powder charge, shot wad, and pellets.
Step 7: The hulls are then crimped, labeled, and readied for inspection and packing.
Story tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.